Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri – Movie Review – An emotion filled crime drama with dark humour.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri follows Mildred (Frances McDormand) a mother who challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder case, after months have passed with no results.

At it’s core this a bleak story thematically. I did not expect myself to become as emotionally invested as I was. It’s a credit to the script and the performances that the film was able to pull me in, and surprise me with the emotional reactions it made me feel at certain points through out the story. The dialogue is great because although it is quite emotionally distressing, it never becomes unbearably depressing. That’s because the writing is quite sharp and threaded throughout the script is a flurry of dark humour, which keeps the overall tone from being dour. You get the moments that will affect you emotionally, but you’ll also get moments that’ll make you smirk or even laugh. It’s a wonderful balance.

The great script is bolstered by powerhouse performances from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. Frances gives a well rounded performance as Mildred. It’s clear to see from the opening scenes of the film that she is a mother who traversed beyond the point of being fed up, when it comes to how the local authorities have treated the investigation into her daughters rape and murder. This is the type of role that demands a lot from the actor. To remain in such a distressful state throughout the entirety of a shoot is a difficult thing, but Frances does this very well. This allowed me to empathise with her and the situation she is in, so when she does have moments of anger, I completely understood what provoked it.

Woody Harrelson portrays Sheriff Bill Willoughby, a seemingly lazy man who didn’t care enough to try and pursue the case of Mildred’s daughters death. Woody Harrelson has always been a terrific actor, but this performance here surprised me as did his character and how he was written into the script. My feelings towards Bill weren’t all that positive from the earlier aspects of the film, due to the way he is as an individual. I thought that opinion would remain throughout, but then the script adds another element to the character, that provides him with a more important purpose to the story. It’s something that Bill has to deal with which I won’t spoil, because I was unaware of it when I went to watch the film, and I want to retain that impact for you if you choose to watch this film. I haven’t seen any of the trailers so I’m unsure if people have been made aware of it prior to them viewing the film. Woody being the good actor that he is, was then able to use that element to add another dimension to his performance. This made the character resonate with me emotionally in a way that I did not expect at all, and that made me change my opinion of Bill overall.

Sam Rockwell’s performance as Officer Jason Dixon, is a very transformative one. In the beginning he is very despicable, but once again the script develops the character in such a way, that allows for Sam to really subvert your expectations on how his character would be developed through out the film. Peter Dinklage and Lucas Hedges were also great additions to the cast.

Martin McDonagh’s direction was exciting and mostly filled with a lot of energy. Even the scenes of dialogue were helmed in a way that kept me focused on them, with a high level of attention. There’s a few sequences that were shot in way that felt very fresh. These were often the moments of violence, the camera got up close and personal with the actors and it felt surprisingly visceral. Some of those sequences were done in a style that felt like a long take shot, and these moments were very appealing to my eyes and injected even more energy into the film.

There’s not really anything I didn’t like about the film. The only thing I will say is the final third of the film wasn’t as exciting as the rest. Also I’m a little torn on how the film ended, in terms of what some of the characters motivations were by the time the credits rolled.

Overall Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is a unique crime drama that very smartly blends dark humour within it’s script. The performances are fantastic across the board, especially from the three main leads, and I was surprised at how much the film affected me emotionally.


(4 Stars Out of 5)

-T.Graham.-Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri- Starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell,Lucas Hedges and Peter Dinklage.

-Directed by Martin McDonagh.

-Now showing in U.K.Cinemas.

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